In recent years it seems some culture vultures have lost sight of what blockbuster tent pole movies are meant to be. This isn't supposed to be high art, people. When you're hunting escapism at the multiplex, you want to see raucous, fantastical spectacles with likeable, handsome people leading the charge. And that's why "Battle Los Angeles," a delightfully overblown hybrid of "Independence Day" and "Cloverfield," is just the right amount of ridiculous to be incredibly enjoyable.
The film stars Aaron Eckhart as Michael Nantz, a Marine staff sergeant looking to retire after a bad tour of duty leaves too many lost souls on his conscious. But not so fast there, G.I. Rabbit Hole. Before Nantz can bow out of his hoo-rah obligations, major cities around the world, including Santa Monica (just go with us here), come under attack by legions of awesomely destructive aliens who prefer Iraq War-style guerilla warfare and ambush attacks to full-throttle ass-kickery like blowing up the White House or ripping the head off the Statue of Liberty and using it as a bowling ball. Enlisted to lead a rag-tag group of upstarts (including Michelle Rodriguez doing in her typical one-of-the-boys turn) on a certain suicide rescue mission of a half dozen stranded civilians (Bridget Moynahan and Michael Pena, who pulls a serious Gene Hackman and rises well above his material), Nantz and his team lead an all-out offensive for the future of the human race.
Now doesn't that just make you wanna stand up in a theater and shout, "Yeah! U.S.A! U.S.A!" while you get a heaping dose of disaster porn?
Shot by director Jonathan Liebesman ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning") with wobbly not-so-stedicams to place you at the center of the action and evoke a cinema verite-style and filled with earnest performances alongside outrageous setpieces, the movie's take on an alien invasion as if they were Taliban insurgents and use of news footage as a narrative device is immersive enough to allow you to suspend your disbelief to its outer limits as you sink into a story that is utterly ludicrous and yet completely entertaining.
Just what a big, silly alien invasion blockbuster should be.